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That the Unity of the Church is care
fully maintained by all those who are sincere Christians.
PHIL. iii. 15, 16.
Let as many of us therefore as be perfect, be thus mind
ed: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded,
God Mall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same things. He substance of these words may be gathered
ed up in these four propofitions.
I ed up
I. There is that in religion, which is necessary and determined, fixt and immutable, clear and perspicuous ; about which good men, they who are of growth and proficiency in religion, do not differ, As many as are perfect are thus minded.
II. There is also in religion that which is not so necessary, and immutable, clear and plain ; in which good men may happen to be otherwise minded, one than another : or otherwise than ought to be. If any be otherwise minded.
III. There is reason to think that God will bring out of particular mistake him that is right in the main. God mall reveal even this unto you.
IV. They who agree in the main, but differ in other particulars, ought nevertheless to hold together as if they were in all things agreed ; to walk by the Jame rule, to mind the same things.
I am come to the last of these propositions,
Neverthelefs, though God hath not cleared up all things to several understandings : though in all things concerning religion, we are not agreed, as understanding alike : God hath not yet declared in particular, the truth of that wherein we differ, which in time it may be hoped he will : nevertheless whereunto ye have already attained ;) as being come to a state of religion; as having made fome progress and proficiency į being arrived towards perfection : walk by the same rule) of faith and good life where. in they who are sincere and honest understand themfelves alike; which isin itself certain and determinate : things of reason and scripture, given out by the spirit, and attested by the spirit. Mind the same things..) Live according to the rule of faith and holiness ; in hearty love and good-will. Be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind, Phil. ii. 2. There is harmony, concord and agreement; notwithstanding difference in some apprehensions, in all degrees of perfection.
1. This is a representation of the heavenly fitate, a true resemblance of it: it speaks the motion of the lower world; proportionable to the motion of the higher world : the two states symmetral, of like measures ; concentrical, meeting in one point. 'Tis the new Jerusalem come down from heaven : devout souls ascending in a cloud, upon a call from heaven. Rev. xi. 12. Come up hither. For they are come into one fpirit ; are become as one and the same in. habitants ; all enmity subdued and vanquished, i Cor. xv. 25. In heaven it is God all in all. So it will be in the consummation of all things ; when all things snall be subdued unto him, that God may be all in all, i Cor. xv. 28. This is the communication of God to the world, heaven's blessing and influence ; on earth peace, good-will among men. There is no discord in heaven ; no cause of offence there. The selfish and froward, who are the disturbers and incendiaries, are in a worldly state, are not naturalized to heaven. But 'tis rational, and to be expected ; that there should be accord here upon earth among men, who are citizens of heaven, Phil. iii. 20. account their names registred there ; who look upon themselves as now belonging to that place, and in due time to come thither. Fellow-travellers and countrymen, when abroad, are glad one of another, are faithful and kind each to other.
2. 'Tis the cause of religion, and natural to the regenerate state, James iii. 17. The wisdom which is from above, is first pure, and then peaceable, gentle and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits. If religion attains not this effect, it is barren and ineffectual ; it is not in truth, but only pretended : there must be inward composure, and outward good behaviour. The Psalmist makes a good explication of religion in the subject, Psal. cxxxi. 1, 2. My heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty, neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me. I behave and quiet myself as a child. Religi
on doth bridle evil desires : doth subdue and moderate the exorbitancies and unruliness of mens fpirits. The profane and irreligious are boisterous, tempertuous within themselves are stormy and clamorous, are in darkness, disorder and confusion, through passion, inordinacy of appetite, are ground between contrary affections, as corn between mill-ftones : whereas the work of religion is to calm and quiet, to content and satisfy, to make gentle, and to compose the rolling tumbling mind of man.
If a man be not far better-natur'd towards God and all the world, more kind and loving to men ; more at peace within himself after his regeneration than before, there hath been motion, without a form introduced ; which in nature is monstrous and abortive.
'Tis a scandal to the world, where professors of religion do not agree : either it makes strangers to it call the thing in question, (as Pilate did, what is truth) who will let all alone till they be agreed : or else they think that they are all malæ fidei pollesfores, no natural parents, because they' are for divifion : no rightful owners, all thieves, because of their several interests and shares. Truth being single if men did meet in truth they would be united. 'Tis a sign the cause is not right and undoubted, when the maintainers of it do so interfere, go fuch gross ways to work.
This hath tired out the best of men, wearied them out of the world. Goodtempered Melancton's satisfaction, when he came to die was, that he should be freed from the temptations to sing from the troubles of the world, and from
the fury of theologues, from quarrelsome persons in matters of religion, as vexatious and troublesome as either of the former. 'Twas Origen's argument against Celfus, that through the virtue and efficacy of the christian religion, the state of the church was Calm and quiet ; whereas other states were turbulent. 2 Cor. xii. 20. Lest when I come, I should not find you such as I would : left there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults. The works of the flesh are, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murder, Gal v. 22. But the fruits of the spirit are love, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, goodness.
3. 'Tis the conversation of christians each with other for mutual gain and advantage. (1.) For fpiritual edification. Whereas if variance and contests obtain, there will be alienation of hearts and affections, a suspension of all christian acts ; there will be neither prayer nor discourse : whereas they who are religious, they that fear the Lord fall speak often to one another, Mal. iii. 26. (2.) This is for their better subsistence in an evil world. Foreign opposition and force cannot do the mischief that internal feuds and treachery may. (3.) There is more hearts ease and quiet of mind. 'Tis burdensome to live out of love and good-will : the mind is still contriving defence or offence : and so not vacant towards the highest and noblest objects.
4. This prevents all mischiefs which infest human society. Such as, (1.) Sidings one against another ; part-takings, and factions. (2.) False